Five things you should know about the Salzburg elections

The Local Austria
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Five things you should know about the Salzburg elections
Salzburg, in Austria (Photo by Heinz Klier / Pexels)

On Sunday, residents of the Salzburg province in Austria went to the polls to elect a new regional government in one of the most significant elections leading up to the national vote in 2024.


Centre-right ÖVP faced losses

The Salzburg regional parliament has 36 seats. After the elections, ÖVP lost three seats and will have 12 representatives.

Five years ago, incumbent governor Wilfried Haslauer achieved his best election results to date with the centre-right ÖVP and had many options for forming a coalition. However, after Sunday's election, Haslauer now has only three options that are at least mathematically viable.

The possible coalitions to be formed 

These options include Black-Blue, which is a coalition with the far-right; ÖVP-SPÖ, which is a coalition with the centre-left; or a three-party coalition of ÖVP, SPÖ, and Greens (who kept their previous three seats). 

The ÖVP will get 12 sits (-3), the FPÖ will have ten (+3), the SPÖ, seven (-1), the communist KPÖ, four (+4) and the Green three (0).

Haslauer has already announced that he would hold talks with all parties to discuss the potential options and form a coalition.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How do Austrians elect their chancellor?

Centre-left SPÖ also lost sits

The SPÖ has lost one seat and will have 12 representatives in the Salzburg parliament. The Social Democratic party's stability is being tested as it goes through an internal feud for leadership, as The Local reported.

Austrians are following a critical race in the next few weeks: the competition for the presidency of centre-left party SPÖ, the Social Democratic Party of Austria and one of its oldest and most relevant political institutions.

The head of the SPÖ will also be its leading candidate and primary representative for the 2024 national elections – that person could then be the next chancellor of Austria. 

The leading candidate is the current leader of the SPÖ, Pamela Rendi-Wagner. The Viennese 51-year-old is a feminist and politician who has served as the party’s chairwoman since late 2018.


Hans Peter Doskozil, the Burgenland governor, is also the leading opposition candidate in the run – and the man that started the race. He has been one of the prominent critics of Rendi-Wagner’s political tactics and called for the SPÖ to have a more rigid stance as the opposition party. This year, he officially announced that he’d be running for the top position within the SPÖ party, challenging the current leadership. 

The third and final candidate for the SPÖ leadership is Andreas Babler, the 50-year-old mayor of Traiskirchen in Lower Austria. 

READ ALSO: Austrian elections: Who will be the Social Democratic Party’s chancellor candidate?

Far-right FPÖ was the big winner

The far-right party won three seats after the elections and will have ten parliamentarians in place.

According to a voter analysis by ORF, the FPÖ won 19,000 votes from the ÖVP in Salzburg's state elections. 

The far-right's rise has to do with many factors, including its extreme speeches and positions against immigration policies and the coronavirus measures in Austria. You can read more about why the far-right is gaining more supporters HERE.


The Communist Party had a surprising result

A big surprise was the achievement of the Communist party KPÖ, which now enters parliament with four chairs. Every ninth vote in Sunday's Salzburg election went to the KPÖ plus - a previously "completely insignificant party", according to Der Standard.

The communist vote came from people who previously voted for every other party, including for the far-right, according to a Sora Institute's voter flow analysis. However, most votes for the communist came from people who used to vote for the Greens or the SPÖ.

With the centre-left votes going to the communists and the centre-right going to the FPÖ, the Salzburg elections showed a tendency that could be seen nationwide to voters reaching the extremes of the political spectrum.




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